Firefighters had to suspend aerial operations over a Utah wildfire when someone illegally flew a drone over the blaze
- Firefighting crews in Utah had to suspend aerial operations on Thursday after a drone was spotted flying over the site.
- The FAA restricts airspace above natural disasters, including wildfires.
- Firefighting planes and helicopters were eventually able to resume flying. The 500-acre fire was 35% contained as of Friday morning.
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Firefighters working the nearly 500-acre "Alaska Fire" near Provo, Utah, were forced to suspend air operations on Thursday after a drone was spotted flying illegally over the blaze.
According to tweets from Provo Fire and Rescue and the FAA, aerial operations were held up for an hour when a drone was spotted at 8:40 a.m. above the fire. Wildfire crews have been using tankers and helicopters to drop water and retardant on the blaze, and to survey the fire to support firefighters on the ground.
"This is dangerous and could cause fatalities as drones interfere with ground and air operations," Provo Fire said in a Tweet.
"DO NOT operate your drone near or around #wildfires. If you fly, FIREFIGHTERS CAN'T," tweeted the FAA.
The FAA restricts drone use in airspace affected by wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. That's in addition to permanent aisrpace restrictions near stadiums, sporting events, airports, security-sensitive areas, and Washington, DC.
The FAA suggests checking its B4UFLY app before operating a drone to check for airspace restrictions.
The Alaska Fire was first reported on Tuesday evening, according to Fox 13 Salt Lake City.
According to the US Forrest Service, the fire was 35% contained on Friday morning, and will continue working with a helicopter throughout the day.
ATTENTION #dronepilots: due to unauthorized #drone operations, @provofire had to shut down ALL #firefighting efforts on the #AlaskaFire. DO NOT operate your drone near or around #wildfires. If you fly, FIREFIGHTERS CAN'T. https://t.co/UZVUv3ocjP #NoDroneZone #FlySafe https://t.co/38E6cpcC2T- The FAA (@FAANews) August 2, 2019